The Beauty Myth is pretty brave. It is brave because Wolf claims that women are living under a form of medieval mind control. This system of oppressivThe Beauty Myth is pretty brave. It is brave because Wolf claims that women are living under a form of medieval mind control. This system of oppressive thoughts is created by the beauty industry seeking to make a profit off of women's insecurities and is perpetuated by patriarchal institutions that have a vested interest in withholding rights from women. This is a brave claim because it is so easy to refute. I can hear a critic say, "How do you know what women are thinking, Ms. Wolf?" And while Wolf is on shaky ground purporting to know the inner life of a whole generation of women, I for one wholeheartedly agree with her based on my personal experiences. I daily, perhaps hourly, perhaps every five minutes, think about my appearance. I have so often thought to myself that this critical line of thinking is exhausting and dismal, a leech on my energy and joy. Wolf allows the reader to take this thought a step further and to reflect upon how this exhausting experience pans out politically when it is experienced by an entire generation of women. We become passive, docile, and tired. We do not have the courage or the energy to demand what is our due, things like parental leave (amazingly none is offered at UNT for its staff), or child care, or help in the home, or equal pay, or unionization. (Warning: Here comes a little personal soap box.) Having worked in a public high school, a preschool, and now a library, all workplaces dominated by women, I know firsthand that women's work is not valued. I have always been paid very little. Who is to say that working with children is less valuable to society than say engineering or architecture? It is not less valuable and so should be paid equally. Women do not demand their fair share partly because of the beauty myth. We are faithful believers when the myth tells us that we are not pretty enough to be worthy of equal pay. We take little notice of institutional or systematic inequalities because we are on a daily quest for the Holy Grail: a muscular fat-free body with large breasts. Wolf encourages us to remember that real women are designed to carry a higher percentage of fat as part of our ability to menstruate and bear children. It's nothing to be ashamed of at all. This book is a good place to start if you want to start leaving all the negative "beauty" thinking behind. Also, as a writer I admired and enjoyed Wolf's confident and aggressive writing style. It really helped me to get caught up in the incensed spirit of the book. ...more
This book is so wonderful. It focuses on the unspeakable: how much women hate their bodies. What we are ashamed of we are silent about. Courtney MartiThis book is so wonderful. It focuses on the unspeakable: how much women hate their bodies. What we are ashamed of we are silent about. Courtney Martin lets it all out: how food marks us as good or bad. How exercise marks us as good or bad. How our paycheck and resume marks us as good or bad. She encourages us to stop criticizing ourselves because our disordered eating and hateful thoughts are at the worst killing us and at the least stunting our potential.
The last chapter was the most inspiring as she imagines how we can begin to live in a different way than society has set out for us. I love this: "You may choose to order a burger instead of a salad simply because you feel like it. Or you may choose to order a salad instead of a burger because you realize that your pleasure in life comes from many sources, not just food." She encourages us to acknowledge and feed our myriad hungers, instead of living a life of denial, self-flagellation, dieting. She encourages us to make exercise truly fun (she does African dance!) instead of a penance.
If you've ever put yourself down when looking in the mirror please read this book!...more
i remember after i read this book in college my mother seemed dismayed with me. i think she thought the book would have a negative effect on me. i undi remember after i read this book in college my mother seemed dismayed with me. i think she thought the book would have a negative effect on me. i understand her feelings because this book is without hope maybe 80% of the time.
however, this book helped me to become more self-aware (gah, that's an awful oprah word). esther in the book lacks the ability to respond to life in a healthy way. i have become quick to recognize when my own response to life has gone outside the realm of "normal". there is a definite barrier you cross when you change from cynical to detached.
obviously this book isn't "fun" to read, but i think it's better to have a fundamental understanding of how depression manifests itself especially in one's formative years. ...more